Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Ways to Kill and be Killed in LL or B/X

Futzing with combat is one of the more common temptations in old school house rules. I, for one, seem to go in a six-month cycle of wanting more and more detail only to turn full circle and move back to the most stripped down and quick (and by the book). Our current house rules (flavored a bit by LotFP) are somewhere in my medium zone, a place I hope to stay.

So with no further ado some of the new weapons, armor, combat options, and the ever loveable Death and Dismemberment chart (adopted and modified in a chain from Robert Fisher to Norm of Troll and Flame to myself). You'll note that the HC version of the latter table is a bit more on the deadly side than others.

New Combat Options

The fighting classes have a few more options in combat. An eligible character has two more attack options to use in melee in place of a standard attack: an all-out attack and a defensive attack. An all-out attack gives a +1 to hit, but costs the player a +2 AC penalty on the next round of attacks on him/her.

A defensive attack conversely gives the character a bonus of -1 on AC at a cost of -2 for the attack. Fighters alone get one other special attack, a shield pummel, in lieu of a standard attack. A fighter equipped with a large shield can inflict 1d4 of fatal or bludgeoning (non-fatal) damage on a successful hit using the shield pummel option. Fighters equipped with a small shield inflict 1d3.

New Weapons and Armor

Weapon Cost Damage Weight
Rapier 15 gp 1d6+1 2 lbs.
Spiked Gauntlet 5 gp 1d3 2 lbs.
Dirk 4 gp 1d4+1 1 lbs.
Pike* 6 gp 1d6 6 lbs.
* The pike is a two-handed spear about 15-20 feet long. A pike-equipped character can strike from the second rank of a party and can be set to receive a charge. It is extremely awkward weapon in cramped underground quarters however.

Armor Cost Armor Class Weight
Hides/Fur 20 gp 7 3 lbs
Bronze Breastplate 80 gp 5 20 lbs.
Field Plate 1250 gp 2 50 lbs.
Large Shield 10 gp -1 10 lbs.
Small Shield 20 gp -1 5 lbs.

Death and Dismemberment Chart

Roll d10 after PC reaches 0 or lower hit points For each subsequent hit while below the 0 hp mark the player must make a roll with a -1 for each time he has rolled on the chart previously in the encounter. The GM can also adjudicate positive or negative modifiers according to circumstance.

0 or lower Grisly Death. Body so spectacularly destroyed that only a resurrection or wish spell can bring it back to life.
1 to 2 Just Plain Dead. Dead as per the usual rules.
3 to 4

Fatal Wound. Character dies in 1d12 turns unless magical healing is applied. Character is completely incapacitated and will remain an invalid for 3d6 weeks . Scarring makes for -1 to Charisma.
5 to 6

Severed or Mangled Limb or Digit. Roll randomly or GM pick for which limb or digit (can also eyes, ears, or nose). Unconscious for 3d6 rounds. Character requires 3d4 weeks of healing before being able to adventure.
7 to 8 Broken Bone. Roll randomly or GM picks limb. 3d4 weeks to heal bone.
Also Unconscious for 2d6 rounds.
9 Unconscious for 2d6 rounds.
10 or higher Stunned for 1d4 rounds. Unconscious for 2d6 rounds if not wearing helm.


  1. How does magical healing work (or not work) with results 5-8 of the Death and Dismemberment chart?

    I remember a rule back in the day that characters who went unconscious (which is how we played below 0) would require a week of bed rest, even after the damage was healed. Back to the inn we'd go, to guard our unconscious party mates against the inevitable npc thieves who likely paid urchins to tell them about unconscious adventurers.

    I definitely want a system that leaves scars! Required bed rest and interesting inns make those calendars Gary said were so vital a bit more relevant.

    Still: magic. A distinction might be that as hit points are abstract, so is most magical healing which can only 'heal' the intangibles like will to fight and stamina and such. Physical damage would require costly magic to fix.

  2. Hmmm...good question. I would think that you'd want to keep the limb severed unless you had an immediate application (within an hour, unless you had a magical or mundane way to keep the limb iced up and alive) of a strong healing magic like you say.

    Say something on the lines of Cure Serious Wounds, or if you want to be stricter Cure Critical Wounds (it's on par with Raise the Dead after all.)

    A broken bone would be difficult to mend with a Cure Light Wounds. I presume that it fixes mainly surface injuries. I would say if your edition allows it Cure Moderate Wounds or Cure Serious again if it doesn't.